Women’s business networks tend to be depicted as secondary, or as putting women at a disadvantage in terms of entrepreneurship success. Challenging current views on gender and women entrepreneurs’ networks, this study reveals the key role of women’s networks in the creation and development of strong and lasting business relationships. We present women’s “collaborative entrepreneurship” as a powerful feminist networking practice. The research results are based on a set of qualitative, in-depth interviews with ten female entrepreneur dyads, who met through a female network in Luxembourg, and have been working in close collaboration over the years. Through three key benefits related to sisterhood, empowerment, and innovation, women’s collaborative entrepreneurship appears as particularly adapted to the contemporary economic context.
The importance of social networks for entrepreneurs is widely recognized by the scientific and practitioner communities. For more than three decades, networking has been one of the major subjects of interest both in entrepreneurship and women’s entrepreneurship research. Multiple studies have demonstrated how entrepreneurs use social networks to identify opportunities and to access key resources in order to exploit them. Networking activities provide entrepreneurs with access to e.g., business-related information and knowledge, moral support and advice, new business contacts including potential clients, suppliers or investors. In sum, social networks play a key role in the entrepreneurial process, bringing important benefits for entrepreneurs in terms of human, social and financial capital.
In order to seize these multiple advantages, and in face of the predominance of historical, barely accessible ‘old boys’ networks’, a growing number of women’s networks have been created and developed over the years, bringing together the community of female entrepreneurs and top managers. In Luxembourg, for instance, the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs, Women in Business, Femmes Leaders, Zonta Clubs, Girls in Tech, Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors, Mumpreneurs, are all well-known examples of female structured networks in the business and entrepreneurship world. A lot of these networks also exist on the European and international levels, connecting numerous female entrepreneurs from different regions, contexts an…
- The constant undermining of the value of women entrepreneurs’ networks
- Challenging current views about women’s networking
- Adopting a feminist lens on women’s collaborative entrepreneurship
- Investigating collaborative entrepreneurship in women’s networks
- The development of women entrepreneurs’ sisterhood (benefit 1)
- Women entrepreneurs’ empowerment (benefit 2)
- Women entrepreneurs’ diversity and innovation (benefit 3)
- Practical implications for the entrepreneurial ecosystem
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